I Haven’t Had A Drink All Year

Hi there,

I bet you didn’t particularly expect to hear from me again. Mostly because you are largely fictional, given I am not sure anyone is actually subscribed to this blog. I can’t really blame you (or the lack of you?).

Anyway, I was very successful in the area of not drinking alcohol this year, but less successful in the area of writing about it. To recap:

Alcoholic drinks this year: 0
This is much better than I anticipated. I thought I might end up needing a beverage to calm my nerves in a social setting at some point, or that I would bow to some form of peer pressure.

In reality, I just spent less time than previous years in places where drinking was the norm. So that was was a successful strategy.

Since I didn’t keep up my end of the bargain in terms of writing about the experience, I figured I at least owned it to myself (and the three of you bored enough to click onto this post) to say something about how Sober ’17 went down.

This is going to sound like a humble brag, but it was much easier than I anticipated. I thought I would be yearning for a drink. I thought I would be smelling the scotch from friends’ glasses and drowning in drool. I thought the “one drink won’t hurt” mentality would kick in.

But I guess I was ready to really take on this challenge. And please understand that this was, in fact, a challenge. I am a Drinker. There was a time in my life when I could have eight pints of Belhaven Best after finishing a tour in Edinburgh and still find my way home, which seems excessive for a wee lass. I Enjoy Beverages. I love going to tastings, and trying new brews. I love when my best friend, who worked in liquor stores for most of her adult life until quite recently, experiments and serves me random cocktails.

So I gave up this vice for a set amount of time, mostly to prove to myself that I could. I mentioned at the start that this wasn’t for a medical reason. I wasn’t going to win a lottery if I stuck it out. I kind of assume that the 10-15lbs I lost over 2017 will come back in January, which seems extremely unfair, but I hate exercising and don’t really have the home space for one, nor the money for a gym membership, so I guess that’s just the risk I run by welcoming the intoxicating mix of barley, water, yeast, and hops back into my repertoire.

I knew I was going to make it through, for sure, around April. There was a stressful moment that would have been 1000 times easier if I just had a couple of beers and ignored the annoying humans causing me grief, but I didn’t tuck into the abundant supply. From there, it was just a matter of waiting out the clock.

Did people still try to get me to drink? Absolutely. No one was particularly malicious in their intent. There was no one trying to get me to slip up because it would be fun. My best friend offered delicious sounding beverages “in the event I changed my mind” but didn’t push it. She might be more excited for my return to drinking than I am, which is saying something consider I am planning to stay up past midnight just to have a glass of Almond Baileys before bed (vegan and lactose intolerant for the win). I think she misses her drinking buddy, and I get that. I miss freeloading off her seemingly endless supply that is so hospitable in sharing with me.

I traveled to Boston for the first time this February, and would have loved to try some east coast brews, but didn’t.

My birthday passed without a celebratory cocktail.

I didn’t indulge in any blended frozen concoctions in Anaheim, nor any spiked coffee treats in Seattle. I went to two family gatherings were booze was freely available, but stuck to water or juice or pop.

I went to a dear friend’s beautiful Summer wedding and was likely the only sober person wishing the drunk people would shut up at 4am when they all stumbled into the direction of the tents. By the way, if you are planning a wedding, and have a large enough space for it (for instance, you are out in farm land), having your guests camp after the festivities and then feeding them pancakes in the morning is extremely delightful.

I did have fun recounting things other people said when they were drunk, which was sort of reminiscent of my high school years as the designated driver. I didn’t start drinking until a couple weeks after my 19th birthday, which is the legal age in my province. I took pride in making sure others were safe in their shenanigans.

My parents visited at one point and we went to the pub. My dad got “I’m so proud of my kids” drunk and my mom got “now that you have a new hair cut I can tell you I hated the last one” drunk while I have virgin caesers. I put them in a cab back to their hotel and drove their car back to them in the morning (because I didn’t want to drive their rowdiness anywhere in the dark in an unfamiliar vehicle on the busy city streets), and enjoyed recounting their antics to them. I probably would have remembered these tidbits had I been drinking myself, since I’m not one to over drink, but regardless, it was a lot of fun.

I read so many books this year. Part of this has to do with listening to at least one audiobook per week, but in total, I finished 201 books, and since I am not used to a number this high, it seems sort of obnoxious at the same time as feeling like a major achievement. In the New Year, I have a feeling that drinking might cut into my reading time, but on the same note, I am looking forward to drinking booze in my weekly book baths again, instead of coffee or juice or water. Perhaps reading will cut into my drinking time.

One thing I am looking forward to with my return to drinking is the possibility of going out to more events. I know there are some fun theatre/karaoke/get adults together so they can make friends type of things in the city, but they tend to be in bars, and I didn’t want to be the only one not drinking. I already get singled out enough by just being an introvert or by having food allergies or by being vegan, so I didn’t want to add another reason for people to not relate to me. Besides, if I stayed at home, that was where the books were. And so many seasons of fantastic shows on Netflix.

But it will be nice to have the freedom to go out when the mood strikes me.

Come to think of it, I’m meeting a new friend this coming week, and we won’t be limited in where we can go that night based on my personal challenge. I never minded going to pubs this year, but it seemed to make other people uneasy that I wasn’t “allowed” to drink. I hate making other people uncomfortable.

Overall, it was a fun experiment. I found out I can do something if I am really set to do it, and can do it long term if it suits me. One of the reasons I didn’t write about it for most of the year was I was having trouble finding engaging topics for not doing an activity. I think that I really wanted to write was this conclusion to the project, and obviously I had to wait out the year for that time to come around.

If you have made it this far, congratulations and here’s to 2018. If you have any questions, I’ll be shocked but delighted to receive your message.

T-minus 2 hours and 4 minutes until I open that bottle of Almond Baileys, so I guess I better curl back up with my current book.

Cheers!

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Vacation

I’m on vacation, and it would be nice to have a beverage with my brother, but I am still going strong on this project, in abstaining from alcohol, if not in posting updates. At this point, it’s all about proving that I can actually do the whole year, but I’ve become bored with the project because I haven’t put time into the active prospective (writing and thinking over the intersections).

First Quarter Progress

3 months down, 9 months to go.

In the first aspect of this project, not drinking, I have thus far had 100% success.

Blogging about it, however, has been much more spotty. I’ve had ideas come to me here or there, but kept forgetting to take action and actually write them down. I also didn’t set a schedule for myself, so this half of the project was vaguely doomed from the get go.

I had a phase a while back where I dreamed about being in situations where I drink, and kept refusing to do so, but if I came into the dream a drink or two into the story, I felt guilty for forgetting that I wasn’t supposed to be drinking.

I’m not a fan of failing, so perhaps these are the great nieces and nephews of nightmares – distantly related but you can see something similar in how they look at you.

I have a vacation coming up this month, as well as my birthday (the day doubles as a celebration of my friends’ marriage), so I’ll be around alcohol, but it’s been in my house this whole time without me even thinking about stopping this impulsive and silly quest, so I don’t expect any mishaps.

I have a friend who works at a liquor store (the same one who I used to drink with every Tuesday, but now I generally have tea) who is already stock piling aging beers for us to try in 2018.

Travel Frustrations

I made it through my trip to Boston without caving to my want to have a Sam Adams. I mean, I am currently existing through am layover at YYZ, so I could, in theory, have a drink here (which would be grand, as there are too many humans and I can’t reliably distract myself with anything productive) or on the plane, but not only am I even more determined to succeed, I also hate the captive market pricing of the flight industry.

Anxiety is not going to be as big of an issue for this challenge as I thought; I still experience it, but I don’t NEED a drink to get through the situation (Is never thought this was tue case, but it is nice to have confirmation). On the one hand that is brilliant, but on the other, I have no excuse to fall back on besides just wanting a drink.

10 more months to go.

Not Drinking Enough

I woke up less than an hour ago and was immediately angry with myself that I was hungover.

Being hungover sucks. From the moment you wake, you feel like garbage; your limbs and mind are sluggish, and you know the day is going to be unnecessarily difficult.

Of course, it wasn’t long before I realized my assumption was incorrect. I haven’t had booze since last year. I’m likely just dehydrated.

This doesn’t surprise me. I have been having a problem with keeping hydrated, given I hate having to go to the bathroom every twenty minutes and am bad at striking a balance between visiting the lav an obscene amount of times and not feeling like crap for no good reason.

It doesn’t help that my body doesn’t seem to be adept at feeling thirst. Sometimes I will go all day likely needing water, only to start getting a headache, which will be my only cue that my body is missing dihdrogren monoxide. Even when I know that’s what it craves, I can get distracted (case in point: I meant to fill up my water bottle before sitting down to write this post, but there it is, a couple feet away and empty, which I try to finish this post before leaving for work).

So at first I was upset at myself for overindulging, which is a strange way to wake up, especially after having survival-based dreams, brought on by watching a handful of The Walking Dead episodes just before bedtime. Now I’m further upset that I am not taking good enough care of myself, but secretly I am glad I didn’t have to pull my tired butt outta bed in the middle of the night to go pee. Sometimes I wake up feeling dehydrated even after going through that annoyance.

So, if nothing else, this post is a reminder to drink some water, as I am about to do the same, and mostly a pondering of at why I immediately assumed I caused this by overindulgence instead of under hydration.

(Obviously the title of this post is talking about water. Just to clarify. Because I still having had any booze, and to some that might feel like not enough.)

Increased Reading

I’ve read 19 books so far this year.

If this number doesn’t seem high to you, let me assure you that it is high to me. I am a slow reader, and am now on track to finish about 170 books this year. Last year, I read about 120.

There are a few factors that have increased my literature intake: I am able to borrow audiobooks from my library, and listen to about a book a week that way while I am in transit or taking walks. I started a project where I do Weekly Entertainment Wrap Up videos about the things I have read, watched, and listened to, and feel pressure to have at least a couple of books to talk about each week.

And I’m not drinking anymore.

Reading and having an alcoholic beverage used to be a weekly affair (it was a Wednesday Tradition that took place in my bath tub, with the evidence posted to Instagram), but if I get to the stage of being tipsy, reading is no longer enjoyable because I am no longer taking in as much information as is desired. Ever watch a movie while drunk and then recall approximately none of the plot? Given that reading is a little bit more work, it is easy to stop working when you realize you aren’t absorbing the text.

Now, when I come home from a weekly dinner and movie date at my friend’s house, I can still get in a chapter or two before bed because I’m not tipsy. I don’t always, but I have the option to do so. My head is clear more often, so there are more opportunities to read.

So obviously I can’t attribute this uptake in novel consumption purely to the absence of alcohol, but it is helping.

Conversational Shorthand

Something that I have noticed while trying to write about this experience is that there is a cultural conversational shorthand in my area of the world in which “drinking” tends to mean “drinking alcohol”. It has made me curious as to why this is, but also at a loss as to how to look up this very precise etymological quirk.

Instead, I am going to make some wildly unfounded hypothesises, but would very much like to know if any of them are at all close, so if you have a lead on this subject, please do let me know.

Hypothesis One:
“Would you like to get a drink with me?” is an adult asking another adult on a date, and our culture associates dating with drinking, as part of the “getting to know you” phase.

Hypothesis Two:
“A Drink” is short hand because any other fluid intake is usually explained in context.
Examples:
-I think I need some water.
-I need my morning coffee to function.
-Tea is an import part of curling up with a book.

Hypothesis Three:
“A Drink” is short for “Alcoholic Drink,” whereas “I would like a drink of water” explains the exact liquid required.
After watching characters on Grey’s Anatomy having horrid days, we always know that one character asking the other, “hey, wanna go for a drink?” means that they are going to Joe’s for alcohol (although it will vary between scotch, tequila, and beer depending on the character and the day).

Hypothesis Four:
Saying “A Drink” is easier than specifying something for which the other person might not be in the mood, or means you haven’t decided what beverage you want. This does not explain on it’s own why “a drink” seems to mean “an alcoholic drink,” but mixed with the above hypothesises, it could be a factor.

Side note: there is a similar cultural phenomena of asking someone to go for coffee, but this does not bind them to having to drink a coffee-based beverage. This seems to be the alcohol-free version of this shorthand. (Or, in the case of Luke Cage, it is code for sex. Being demisexual, I would not pick up on that cue and things would get really awkward really quickly.)

If you have any random (or factually-backed) hypothesises, please let me know, as I am fascinated by this turn of phrase.